I pee myself when I sneeze and my legs aren’t crossed. I leak a bit when I’m at the gym on the leg press and I’m going for a heavier weight. I’m scared of trampolines. And I’m not alone.
I had my children a really long time ago now – my boys are nearly 14 and 15, but their births have still wreaked havoc on my pelvic floor up until today. And yes I do all those exercises that make your eyebrows go up and down… The thing is – if I forget to do those exercises for a week or so (and I’m busy like everyone else and forget) – I’m back to wearing panty liners every day, just in case!
It’s embarrassing! It makes my clothes smell (I always take a spare pair of undies with me everywhere) and it makes me reluctant to do the things I love – like lifting heavy at the gym or hitting the mountain bike trails.
Hell, I’d just like to sneeze without panicking!
In the past, I’ve tried different methods to improve my pelvic floor:
- I’ve tried Ben-Wa Balls (not really for me) – they make me giggle too much.
- I’ve been to a specialised Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist (actually fantastic!)
- I’ve tried the daily exercises (breath out, pull those muscles up like my vagina is sucking up through a straw, relax…)
FACT: Strong Pelvic Floor Muscles are positively associated with better sex and better orgasms.
We recently wrote about the Elle Tens for relieving the labour pains (and how to pick one up for just $60 out of pocket if you have health insurance! But did you know it can also be used post-birth to strengthen those pelvic floor muscles!
More Reading: More Mums are Using TENS Machines During Labour to Manage Pain
Table of Contents:
1. How Do You Find Your Pelvic Floor Muscles?
If you are already familiar with your pelvic floor muscles, you can skip this bit! But if you aren’t sure how to find your pelvic floor muscles, don’t be embarrassed about it – they are tricky to find! Here are some easy ways to identify them!
Try to Stop Peeing Mid-Stream
Now don’t do this too often, it actually isn’t good for you and can cause a urinary tract infection – but this is an easy way to identify your pelvic floor muscles. When you let your urine stream go when you are on the toilet, the muscles that make your urine ‘stop’ mid-stream – is your pelvic floor muscles.
So to practise finding them, pretend you are weeing, then use those muscles to ‘stop’. You are now contracting your pelvic floor.
Contract Around a Finger – Or a Penis
Insert a clean finger (or penis) into your vagina, then try to squeeze the finger (or penis). If you are doing it correctly, you (or your partner) should feel your vagina muscles tighten and your pelvic floor move upwards during the contraction.
2. How Do I know If My Pelvic Floor Muscles are Weak?
Most women aren’t even aware of their pelvic floor muscles until after they have given birth – that’s because pregnancy puts such a huge strain on those muscles.
If you aren’t sure – here are the symptoms of a weak pelvic floor:
- You wee yourself when you jump, sneeze or run.
- You don’t quite make it to the toilet in time when you need to pee.
- You have frequent bouts of Urinary Tract Infections or Thrush.
- You can’t hold in a fart.
- You feel a ‘heaviness’ or feel a ‘bulging’ in the vagina.
- Your tampons dislodge or fall out.
- You have pain during sex and the inability to orgasm.
- In severe cases, a weak pelvic floor can cause bowel incontinence and bladder or uterine prolapse.
3. What Causes a Weak Pelvic Floor?
There are many causes of a weak pelvic floor. In fact, in women aged 40 and over, it is very common. The most common causes of a weak pelvic floor include:
The pelvic floor muscles support the weight of the uterus during pregnancy. The body also releases a hormone called ‘Relaxin’ which softens all the surrounding tissues to accommodate a growing baby. With the effect of the softening and the additional weight of a growing baby, the pelvic floor muscles are easily over-stretched during this time.
If you have given birth naturally, this too puts an enormous strain on the pelvic floor muscles and birth stretches them even further.
If you are lacking in fibre and are often constipated and strain to poo on a regular basis, this can also cause weak pelvic floor muscles.
Painful Periods and Endometriosis:
Painful periods and endometriosis cause pelvic floor muscle tension which over time will weaken the pelvic floor.
Women with a BMI Over 30:
Women with a higher BMI have more pressure inside the abdomen to support the additional weight. This in turn stretches the pelvic floor muscles and causes them to weaken.
4. Why Do I Need to Strengthen My Pelvic Floor Muscles?
There are many fantastic health benefits to strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. Here are just a few:
A Strong Pelvic Floor Makes Sex Better!
A strong pelvic floor increases sexual sensations and the ability to orgasm. A toned pelvic floor keeps the blood vessels in that area healthy, which improves blood flow to the area, and a good blood flow means an increased sexual response.
If you have a male partner, a strong pelvic floor can be used to ‘squeeze’ your partner into orgasm.
Prevents Urinary and Bowel Incontinence
A poor pelvic floor can make life embarrassing with urine leakage and bowel leakage. It can also go the other way and cause chronic constipation.
5. How Does the Elle Tens Machine Work?
If you are fit, active and healthy, but still struggle with weak pelvic floor muscles – you must look at an Elle Tens Machine.
The one we reviewed is the Elle Tens + (pictured below). And not only can it be used during active labour to relieve labour pains – but it has ‘Pelvic Mode’ and comes with an attachment for strengthening pelvic floor muscles.
Quick questions I know you want to ask!
- Yes – you insert the little attachment into your vagina.
- No – it doesn’t hurt – but you can certainly feel it!
- I keep mine on my bedside table to use a few times per week (when I think of it).
6. How Can I Get an Elle Tens Machine for $60 Out of Pocket?
Well, if you’ve known us at SAHM for a while or in real life, you already know how I love getting discounts, rebates or just saving money as much as I can!
The best part about purchasing a TENS machine is that a lot of health insurers attract rebates. You can claim around 60-100% rebate out of the purchase price!
Just ask your GP for a letter of support for the Elle TENS machine as this will assist with the claim. It may also be referred to in your Health Insurance Policy as a Health Aid or Health Appliance. You can also check with your health provider directly.